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Rookie Kada wins Shiga gubernatorial election.

TSU, Japan, July 3 Kyodo

A university professor specializing in environmental protection scored a surprising victory in Sunday's Shiga gubernatorial election by beating incumbent Gov. Yoshitsugu Kunimatsu and another challenger.

Kyoto Seika University professor Yukiko Kada, 56, will become the nation's fifth female governor after those in Osaka, Kumamoto, Chiba and Hokkaido prefectures and Shiga's first female governor.

She beat Kunimatsu, 68, who sought a third four-year term with support from major parties and organized voters. Also in the race was labor union leader Yoshinori Tsuji, 59, who was also critical of Kunimatsu's eight years in office.

Kada was supported by the Social Democratic Party, and Tsuji by the Japanese Communist Party.

Kada collected 217,842 votes, compared with 185,344 for Kunimatsu and 70,110 for Tsuji.

Voter turnout was 44.94 percent, up from an all-time low of 38.67 percent in the last election.

While Kunimatsu promoted big public works projects such as the construction of a new Shinkansen train station, Kada and Tsuji committed to freezing or scrapping the plan because of local debts totaling around 1 trillion yen.

Kada, underscoring the western Japanese prefecture's poor fiscal health, blasted the Shinkansen and other big projects as a waste of money.

Kunimatsu had the backing of more than 200 organizations, including the local chapter of a labor union group supporting the Democratic Party of Japan, as well as the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito party and the DPJ.

Fumio Kyuma, who chairs the LDP's decision-making General Council, registered surprise at the ''totally unexpected'' outcome.

''To be honest, I don't know why it turned out to be this way,'' he said, adding, however, he does not expect Kunimatsu's loss to have any effect on next year's unified local elections and House of Councillors election.

''There has to be a reason for the defeat,'' Kyuma added.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jul 3, 2006
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